If ever song choice and performance didn't matter for the girls on American Idol
, this is that week. The theme doesn't matter, because there's only one point worth paying attention to: Does Lazaro Arbos suck enough to finally get sent packing, or does Lazaro Arbos perform well enough to force the judges to use their save.
That's really all it comes down to. Either Lazaro goes home and we have a top five made up entirely of females (not that Idol
would push America in a certain direction or anything), or we have another week of the top 6 and hope that Lazaro sucks next time. If the latter happens, expect next week's theme to be "spoken-word songs sung without a stutter." They'll totally Burnell him if they have to (rock week reference...)
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Since we're down to our final six performers and because all the group numbers were so terribly phoned in anyway, this time around everyone is going twice. The confirmed theme is "A Song I Wish I Had Written," which unfortunately means Andrew W.K. is once again getting the Idol shaft. The unconfirmed theme that FOX hasn't officially made public would appear to be, based on spoilers, the music of 84-year-old composer, pianist and music producer Burt Bacharach, who the finalists have only heard of if they saw an Austin Powers movie.
I know American Idol has gotten some additional flak this season for its outdated themes, made most clearly evident by when Burnell Taylor had never heard the Beatles "Let it Be" before (both inexcusable AND somehow understandable in the Tumblr age), but at least they're the Beatles. While I recognize and appreciate good ol' Burt's songs, his last single was in 1987 ("Love Power," with Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne). Looking at the 30 songs that were number one on the Billboard charts that year, I only know 21 one of them. And I was born in 1980, not the mid 90s like most of these kids.
It is a bit ironic that Idol favorite "Alone," by Heart, was No. 1 that year, as were "Here I Go Again," by White Snake, and "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes. Feel old, anyone? Those songs were released TWENTY-SIX years ago.
Still, while rock week was a bit disappointing, the open-ended nature of the song selections could mean we're in store for a quality, albeit more or less pointless, week of performances. It still comes down to Lazaro, who I thought shined last week. Let's find out if he's got it in him again.
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The recap from last week makes it seem shocking that Burnell Taylor went home, even though everyone saw it coming. Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj offered tearful goodbyes, while Angie Miller stood in the background fiddling with her nails. She captured the "drama" better than the judges could in their well-wishes to Burnell.
Nicki and her cheetah-skin dress have put together quite an on-time streak after that top 10 mishap, and hopefully they won't have to dock her pay. Ryan Seacrest introduces the remaining singers, and Lazaro is wearing what looks like Zuba pants and a matching sport coat. It's absolutely hideous.
Jumping Right In with Angie Miller
We're starting out quick, with Angie Miller up first. She records stupid YouTube videos with her friend, but no one watches them, so we don't have to either. The theme is actually music from the Burt/Hal David songbook, and Angie is singing "Anyone Who Had a Heart," by Dionne Warwick. It's a really good performance, but the song is so old fashioned, it doesn't really fit her contemporary vibe. A forgettable way to open the show, possibly hampered by the fact that it was such a quick jump in. We weren't quite ready.
Keith Urban says she looks great, which is always the curse of death, then tells her she can't rely solely on her voice. He wants more passion and thought she made it look too easy. Nicki calls it old-fashioned (go me), Randy Jackson wants her to digest the lyrics like it's a song she wrote and Mariah wants her next performance to be better.
Amber Holcomb Eats Frozen Shrimp
These "things you didn't know about me" segments are lame. Amber eats frozen shrimp right from the bag and calls it a shrimpsicle. Okay. She's singing "I Say a Little Prayer," also by Dionne Warwick. Much like Angie, it's good, but way too old fashioned for these kids. She has a couple shaky notes, but overall, it just sounds like karaoke.
"Oh my gosh, what in the hell just happened right now?!" Nicki asks. She is bowing down and wanted to give a standing ovation, calling Amber unbelievable and "everything" and saying she is the favorite girl in the competition. She says it wasn't old fashioned at all, and Nicki has officially lost it, though I echo her initial sentiment. I'm sure the Amber lovers will disagree with me, but this performance did absolutely NOTHING for me.
Randy says the competition just started AND that Amber is in it to win it. You double cliche'd us, dawg! Mariah calls it genius, and Keith loves that she doesn't over-sing. Seriously, am I crazy? What the hell did I miss? I was listening to the same thing, wasn't I? They don't get a separate cut, I don't think.
On a side note, Sir Anthony Hopkins is in the audience. I heard that dude likes liver. On the same page with the Chianti though, bro.
Lazaro Arbos Likes to Hunt and Ride Four Wheelers
I refuse to believe that when Lazaro hunts ducks, he wears full body camouflage (hat included) like in his promo video. They might as well dress him up like Flintheart Glomgold. He's singing "(They Long to Be) Close to You," sung by The Carpenters, and it's, in a word, horrible. Laz and his disco-gone-wrong suit are off key and way below the music, and he stumbles over some of the words.
Randy says "no, no, no" and calls it the worst performance to date. ESPECIALLY after Amber was SO amazing! Mariah once again calls him courageous, but criticizes him for missing key changes. Keith honors his inspirational story, then says the key was way too low and that his ear was off. Nicki recognizes that these comments have gone on longer than Lazaro's performance and just skips herself. Ryan makes a point of saying, "If you LOVE Lazaro, vote for him" at this number.
Kree Harrison Got Her Brother Off...Work
Kree tells what's supposed to be an emotional story about getting her brother out of a day at work so he can be at the show. What people don't know about her is that she loves rodeos. And while we didn't specifically know that, I don't think anyone would've questioned it. Does Kree like rodeos? Sure. She's singing "What the World Needs Now is Love," apparently originally offered to Dionne Warwick, who declined, because foresight told her she'd appear too many times in this episode of American Idol. It was recorded by Jackie DeShannon, and likely in the future, Kree Harrison.
While there IS a slight old-fashioned twang to it, she's the first one to make a song her own and really offer an emotional connection. Kree owned this one.
Mariah says she sings as Kree and loved the arrangement, and she doesn't need Kree to make faces or go overboard or do anything that's "OTT." Jeez, that's worse than "hashtag pow." Is OTT really an OMG-type thing kids are using? Mariah's twins are way too young to be texting, though they probably already have diamond-encrusted cell phones. Just so Nick Cannon can reach them when he's on top of the Golden Gate Bridge for America's Got Talent.
Keith loves her voice and her soul and calls it the best she's sung so far, while Nicki calls her "hella cocky" and predicts a Country Music Awards performance next year. Randy contrasts her with Lazaro and urges America to vote for her instead of him. Nice.
Janelle Arthur Played a Boy
Again, lame. Janelle played a boy in a high school play, and no one knew that. Whoop-dee-doo. She's singing "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," sung by Jerry Orbach and Jill O'Hara in the musical Promises, Promises. It's her least artistic performance in a few weeks, and I fall back on my karaoke comments. Much like Angie, it was mostly forgettable.
Keith laughs and says it was good, appreciating another side of her, while Nicki thought it was really boring, Randy calls it lackluster, and Mariah initially enjoyed the simplicity but thought it lacked effervescence (which she probably thinks was the band Angie sung last week). Maybe next time they actually SHOULD have a Perry Como week. What a horrible theme this is.
Candice Glover Puts us out of our Misery
I don't even care what we don't know about her (she speaks a different dialect of English), because it's our last extremely dated song of the night. She's singing "Don't Make Me Over," which was the recording debut of Dionne Warwick. She's only 72. She should've mentored this week. The performance has some bright spots, but again, I'm not wowed by ANY of these. It's a close second to Kree and gets a standing ovation from the judges, but these are all basically throwaways. No chance of goose bumps.
Nicki "goodness gracious"s us, says it didn't sound at all old fashioned and that Candice was born for this. Randy says Candice is in it to win it and that this is what the show is all about. If that means singing dated songs that they as artists will never do in their careers, then I agree. Mariah thought it was current and original, and Keith thought she set the bar really high and that she's in his top 3. I'm so meh about this tonight. I still liked Kree better.
What Angie Miller Wishes She'd Written
I'm glad we're moving on to round 2, and I can only hope these performances will be a bit more inspiring. This time, we're learning why they picked their song. Really, anything is better than listening to Jimmy Iovine's rehearsal criticisms. Angie is back behind the piano, singing the little-known "Love Came Down" by Kari Jobe. She thinks it'll help get her to the finals, and she's right. The digital doves in the background are a bit OTT for me, but it's the best of the night so far. I'm happy she really chose a song she wished she wrote because she loved it, as opposed to what she thought she'd sound good singing or something everyone would know.
Randy loved it for so many reasons, Mariah called it a moment, Keith thinks non-piano songs will eventually come to her with the same emotion piano songs do, and Nicki says the performance is the style that makes Angie memorable at the top of the pack. Angie has a tear running down her cheek afterwards, which is touching, and she stole the show so far. Very much like her two previous memorable songs (her original and her Colton Dixon).
Amber and Burnell Are Just Friends
Much like Amy Smart and Ryan Reynolds were a few years back. They're "just getting to know each other." Amber is singing "Love on Top," by Beyonce, and she's excited to dance around on stage.
She's pitchy to start and lacks all of Beyone's vocal power, which is strange because of the pipes she possesses. It's a bit all over the place, and it certainly doesn't seem like it's a song she wishes she wrote. It sounds like a song she barely knows. I'm sure the judges will love it, but I don't think this was even close to her best.
Mariah, of course, says America and the crowd love her. Not her favorite vocal, but she just had fun up there. When anyone else "just has fun," that's a criticism. Keith says it was beautiful and a great song choice, Nicki says Beyonce better watch out (yeah, I think she's comfy) and that Amber has "arrived," and Randy says "yes, yes, yes," Amber is in it to win it. Bleh. I think America will side with me. Again, didn't think it was bad, but just don't get the praise the judges are heaping on her.
Lazaro Arbos Needs an Angel
He picked his song, "Angels" by Robbie Williams, because it's inspirational and because he feels lonely on the show and could use some help from above. I'm just happy he's not singing "Angels" by Jessica Simpson. He says he's lonely because his friends and family aren't around, but it's really because these other contestants have never really made him feel like part of the group. At least that's my speculation.
I really thought he could've had a moment with this song, but the first verse doesn't sound great. He brings it home a bit in the chorus, which is much, much better, but I just get the feeling that Lazaro is done with this whole thing. He gives off the vibe that he's just ready to go home. He could do a much better job with this song under different circumstances.
Keith liked the song choice and appreciated parts of Lazaro's tone, but he thought the girls are outshining him. Nicki says, "What he said." Randy thought it was better, but just not on par with the girls. Mariah liked his range, but didn't have much nice to say. They've just worn Laz down. Kid never had a chance.
Kree Harrison Stays Old-Fashioned
Kree wishes she wrote Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make it Through the Night," because it's simple and she hopes to make the audience feel every word. Even though she's the only one staying in the Burt Bacharach era, she's probably the only one who can pull it off. Nice southern twang, somewhat her own, but overall not as good as her first performance. But really, really good.
Nicki compliments the musicians and says the difference between her and Janelle is that Kree can sing anything, but she only likes Janelle when she sings a song everyone knows. Ouch. So much for original music, Janelle. Randy calls Kree a natural singer, Mariah loves the Willie Nelson version (what?) and Keith calls it a "buckle polisher." For her, praise from Keith has to mean a lot more than praise from Nicki.
Janelle Wishes She Wrote the Dance of Life
She first heard Garth Brooks' "The Dance" when she was 11 years old, and it blew her mind. It is a country song that will go down in history, and she just knew she wanted to sing it one day. Because, you know, it's about more than just a dance. Deeper meaning in country music, you ask? Shocking? I know, right? Wait, it's about heartbreak. That's one of four acceptable country themes, along with love, your car, working outside and beer. And NASCAR. So five.
Still, I'm not feeling this performance like I'd want to. She once again does not seem heartbroken enough, and she has a really shaky note at the end. She has a much harder time shining when she sings someone else's version of a song and can't make it her own.
Randy thinks she just did an okay job, Mariah didn't know the song but appreciates it now, Keith sends a shoutout to the songwriter but would've liked a solo acoustic guitar, and Nicki thought it was better than Janelle's first song. She doesn't think Janelle got a leg up on any of the other girls.
Candice Puts Her Spin on The Cure
Candice scored the pimp spot this week, and to be honest, I've been looking forward to this ever since I read she might be performing it. I love, love, LOVE The Cure, and the fact that Candice, of all unsuspecting people, wishes she wrote "Love Song" blows me away. I have no idea what her take on it will be, but my expectations might be entirely too high for my own good. She loves singing about love, and I hope I love hearing it.
It's a slowed-down, jazzy performance backed by only a piano. It is, by far, the most original remade version of this song I think has ever been sung. It's haunting, including the gremlin-sounding demon voice that interjected a frighting few words in the middle (anyone else hear that??). Her runs are spectacular, and she shows off her full range. Goose bumps.
Standing O from the judges, Keith bows to her and Mariah walks up on stage and throws a handful of glitter on her. OTT, for sure. Hashtag pow. #GlitterNeverWashesOff.
Randy says, on behalf of all the judges, one of the best performances in the 12-season history of the show. That's the only comment necessary, because there's barely time for the recap anyway. Also, Candice is a crying mess, which is a good sign of a breakout performance.
Personally, I think the cream of the crop has risen, while Lazaro and Amber are destined to be in the bottom two, likely joined by Janelle. The only question is if the Lazaro lovers will garner enough votes to keep him around another week and force the judges to save Amber. I think it's probably the end of the line for him, as his heart just didn't seem in it this week.
What do you think? Who were your favorites? Who came up short? Will Lazaro finally be eliminated, or will Amber get the fewest votes? And if it's a girl, the judges will use their save, right? Tune in Thursday night to find out, when the former Idol carousel continues with performances by superstar Kelly Clarkson and rising country boy Scotty McCreery. Don't forget to watch along live with BuddyTV!
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